TOPIC 7: WRAP-UP
- Take a few minutes at the end of each meeting to review key takeaways and action items. If a board member has offered to take on a particular task, reaffirm that action item with her. If someone requested a follow-up item from you, take the time to confirm that people still find it important; it’s amazing how often something can seem so important at one point in a meeting, and then quite inconsequential just an hour later.
- We are big fans of CEOs who repeat this wrap-up, with a bit more detail, via email a day or two after the meeting. Replay your key takeaways, what the company committed to, your to-dos and board member asks, etc. This follow-up assures that everyone is on the same page and that you have a touchstone to refer back to as you head into the next meeting. It may seem like extra work, but trust us, it will ultimately save you the work of extra communications with board members who are out of sync or not paying enough attention (which happens way more often than it should!).
- This is religion for us. No board meeting should happen without leaving time for the board to meet for at least a few minutes without management. After all, the board’s No. 1 job is to evaluate not just the performance of the business, but the performance of the CEO and management team. Many CEOs fear these sessions, but we can assure you that, in our experience, these sessions do far more to ensure that a board is working in sync to support the CEO than they do to foment unrest. Usually this section lasts just a couple minutes, as board members simply confirm there’s nothing urgent that needs be discussed. But by having these sessions in every meeting, the board is guaranteed that if a critical issue arises that needs to be discussed without management, there is an existing forum for that discussion that doesn’t require an awkward request for time.
- We advise that these sessions happen in two stages:
- First, all non-CEO team members leave the room. This gives the CEO a comfortable, recurring venue in which to comment on any complex team issues that may be lurking. – The CEO then leaves the room, and the board can reflect on the entire meeting. When board discussion is over, the CEO is invited back into the room for real-time feedback.
- These board-only sessions are reserved for only those discussions that truly require a closed door. And when they conclude, a summary of what was reviewed must be shared with the CEO.
- For these sessions to work, and for trust to be maintained between board and management, it is important that the board police itself and make sure it doesn’t hold discussions for which management should be present. These board-only sessions are reserved for only those discussions that truly require a closed door. And when they conclude, a summary of what was reviewed must be shared with the CEO.